Pupils in Dubai return to school after record-setting storms

Some schools registered attendances of more than 90 per cent as the emirate recovers from record rainfall last week

Pupils returned to school for in-person lessons on Monday after torrential rain fell in the country last week. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Dubai pupils returned to classrooms in large numbers on Monday after nearly a week of distance learning due to the country's unprecedented storms.

Some schools registered attendances of more than 90 per cent as the emirate recovers from record rainfall last week which flooded homes and roads and caused significant travel disruption.

Other schools have extended remote operations due to staff and pupils living in areas that remain badly affected by flooding.

Heads of schools reported that though pupils and staff were able to make their way to school, their journey took significantly longer. There was significant traffic on motorways and inner roads on Monday in Dubai and Sharjah.

Returning to normality

“Most of our students are in and we have got really good attendance,” said Rebecca Coulter, principal of Dubai British School Jumeirah Park.

“We have got around 60 families who are on distance learning because they're affected by the conditions, which when you think that we've got 2,000 children at the school is really good.

“For the children who can't get into school, there will be online learning.

“I'm really pleased with the attendance today. I was expecting lower numbers because I wasn't sure of everyone's personal situation.

“I'm really happy that we've got a huge majority of our children back in school. It's lovely to see them and I think families are relieved to get some sense of normality back.”

She said staff at the school had been making calls to children to check in on them.

“The local area was what was preventing us from opening because the roads and the flooding were really bad. A lot of the local neighbourhoods have cleared,” said Ms Coulter.

“Those children that can't get in are either the ones that have been displaced and moved out of their homes because of flood damage or they live in areas which are still inaccessible and being worked on.

“Online learning will stay in place for as long as our families need it.”

At the American Academy for Girls in Mirdif, only seven of 565 enrolled pupils opted for online learning on Monday.

Lisa Johnson, principal at the school said: “I was expecting a higher absentee number but other than a few transportation delays and, a few pupils studying remotely, we're really grateful to say that the majority of our pupils were able to return today.”

She said only a few pupils in areas such as Mudon or Nad Al Sheba had been unable to attend school.

“I have families that sent me pictures with the water in their living rooms but we didn't have many staff and families that experienced loss of housing and valuables.

“The main issue was lack of transportation out of their neighbourhoods. That really was the biggest challenge that we had to overcome.”

Children relish return

At Bloom World Academy in Al Barsha South, 94 per cent of the school’s pupil population turned up on Monday. The school has 750 pupils.

“It's a normal day for us. All the children have been dying to come back to school,” said John Bell principal at Bloom World Academy.

“It seems to me that most children can get to school now, though it has taken some of them a little bit longer than normal.

“We hope that gets better over the next couple of days, but we will keep distance learning going until such a time that we are sure that everybody can get to school.

“I'm delighted that we have a vast majority of children have arrived in school.”

Gems Education, one of the UAE's leading private school groups, said several school extended distance learning on Monday.

"Ten of our schools in Dubai continued with remote learning on Monday after deciding that this was the safest option for our students and staff," said Jon Bramley, Vice President of Communications at Gems Education.

"We also had one school in Abu Dhabi that continued with distance learning while our schools in Sharjah followed the instructions of the regulator there, also remote learning.

"We have made sure that we have informed our parents in good time so that they can plan accordingly and we pay tribute again to our amazing support teams who have worked tirelessly to prepare our schools for the students’ return."

Staying online amid travel difficulties

Rashmi Nandkeolyar, principal at Delhi Private School Dubai in Jebel Ali said the school was closed for in-person learning and they would reassess the situation on Tuesday. It was probable that in-person classes would resume on Wednesday.

She said the school remained closed for face-to-face lessons as pupils travelled from across the city and had to navigate roads, many of which remained waterlogged.

“The school itself is cleaned up and everything is working at school. The thing is that because our children and teachers come from all over Dubai and the roads leading up to the school are either waterlogged or muddy.

“It would not be fair to expect everybody to take circuitous routes to get there so that's why we asked for permission to extend online learning till Tuesday.”

Updated: April 23, 2024, 6:39 AM